Look in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s comic book culture dominating the entertainment business!
It is obvious that the superhero genre has gained momentous popularity in the past decade. Television dramas, animated shows for children, big screen blockbusters, and new comic book heroes have all seen an immense show of support from viewers of all ages. It seems comic book culture, including manga and anime, is a force to be reckoned with.
New York Comic Con attracted over 133,000 attendees, including many NJIT students, in 2013. That is an increase of over 17,000 people from the year before. With the increasing popularity of Comic Con, it would make sense for smaller yet similar events to pop up. Enter NJIT’s first annual comic and anime convention: Mini Con. Located on the first floor of the Campus Center, Mini Con will feature panels, movies, entertainment, prizes, cosplay, vendors, Artists Alley, food and games.
Mini Con was the brainchild of the Anime Club and Association of International Affairs. Anime Club president Dani Judka said, “When we approached the Campus Center to see if we could rent a room, they loved it so much they decided to make it an actual event for the campus because they had never seen anything like it.” Thus, Mini Con became the combined efforts of the Campus Center, NJIT Anime Club, Game Club, Association of International Affairs and other student organizations.
It is expected to be one of the biggest events of the spring semester. “Mini Con caught like wildfire and got a lot bigger than I thought. Normally when you advertise on campus, it takes a bit [for the idea to catch on]. That’s why you have to start really early. The first day of advertising we had 90 prospective participants,” Judka said. Though Judka admitted NJIT is mostly an anime-focused campus, she has no doubt students will cosplay as their favorite superhero.
Now let’s get back to comic book culture. Why are we so innately attracted to it?
Chapter books are usually read by older children, so comics are a good way to get younger children into reading. In an informal survey conducted on campus, half of the students who preferred manga noted that the simplicity of the reading material first attracted them to the genre. Easy to read and entertaining, it is no wonder why comic books appeal to children. Junior Alan Joseph said, “My older cousin introduced me to DC Comics when I was about 7. When you’re a kid and read comics, you can look up to these people even though they are not real, and make certain parts of them real. I’m not Superman, but I can try to be physically fit to protect those I care about. Even though there are times when the Green Lantern was weak, he still had the courage to stand up for what he believed in.”
As children grow up, time to read is replaced by homework and other forms of entertainment. The most common form of entertainment among young people is watching television. Some even sacrificed hours of sleep to enjoy their favorite Saturday morning cartoons.
For today’s college audience, students’ first exposure to DC Comics may have been Batman: The Animated Series, which briefly aired from 1992 till 1997. The following years brought successful shows such as Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and Teen Titans. While there have not been many Static Shock movies, Batman continues to appear in films today. Another popular comic book series and animated show, Justice League, is set for its silver screen debut in 2017.
Almost all students are familiar with Dragon Ball. Originally, the manga was published in December 1984 and went on for another 11 years before concluding in June 1995. Shortly after its first release, an anime series was aired in 1986 that lasted three years. Perhaps the most successful of all the Dragon Ball franchise is Dragon Ball Z. This action packed series aired for almost seven years and has managed to still be one of the most beloved anime of our time.
The college audience’s introduction to Marvel was most likely X-Men: the Animated Series. The series premiered in 1992, lasting five seasons and ending in 1997. Sophomore Ricky Rodriguez said, “My older cousins would watch the TV shows and read the comics, so I got into Marvel because of them.” Mix in the curiosity of a young child’s mind and some humor, and the result is an addictive series enjoyable not just by children, but also by adults seeking to escape the stress of everyday life by finding pleasure in activities of the past. Where animated television series may be targeted at children, Marvel executives’ target audience is the nostalgic teen and adult audience.
Three years after X-Men: the Animated Series ended, 20th Century Fox adapted the popular comic into a movie: X-Men. Grossing over $296 million, X-Men was the ninth highest grossing movie of 2000.
Comic book culture is no longer limited to print. Its influence has extended to movies and television shows. It seems safe to say this is not a fad or passing trend. Prove this to others by joining other Highlanders at NJITs first ever Mini Con!
Saturday, February 15th
Noon – 5pm
Saturday, February 15th
5pm – close
Free for NJIT students
$5 for all others
To host a panel, reserve a table, or offer suggestions, contact Mini Con organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org